Seven Takeaways on Asian Approaches to Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding
Despite rapid economic growth, conflict has persisted in many parts of Asia. Half of the countries in South and Southeast Asia have experienced subnational conflicts in recent decades. Many face the challenge of managing tensions between diverse ethnic and religious communities. Local conflicts associated with land, natural resources, and urban crime have also arisen as Asian countries have developed and urbanized. Protracted conflicts in the region have hindered development and growth, nationally and regionally.
While conflict, peacebuilding, and development is not a new area of development cooperation, many lessons from past international efforts have little applicability in Asia. These efforts have often focused on the role that Western nations or multilateral bodies can play in supporting state-building to build peace. Yet many conflicts in Asia have occurred in countries with capable, functioning states. Middle-income countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines have all experienced internal conflicts. On the other hand, there has been little analysis of the intersection between Asian South-South cooperation and conflict prevention or peacebuilding programs.
South-South cooperation emphasizes supporting peacebuilding efforts in partner countries by drawing on a country’s own relevant experience. Countries such as India, China, Malaysia, Korea, Japan, and Indonesia are increasingly supporting peacebuilding in other Asian countries — by facilitating peace talks, sharing insights from conflicts in their own countries, and supporting economic or cultural programs. As these efforts multiply, the lessons learned from South-South peacebuilding cooperation deserve greater attention. The State of Violence and Conflict in Asia, recently released by The Asia Foundation, identifies country-to-country learning as a critical need for peacebuilding in Asia.